New research from the Education Policy Institute, supported by Unbound Philanthropy, finds that asylum-seeking children who enter the UK separated from their parents are on average over three years behind non-migrant children at school by the time they take their GCSEs.
The new EPI working paper, which is the first study to examine the educational outcomes of the majority of asylum-seeking and refugee pupils in England, estimates their school attainment and considers absence and exclusion rates.
To date, little has been known about the outcomes of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, resettled refugees or asylum support children who enter the English school system, as the government does not record the progress of these pupils.
To estimate the educational outcomes of this highly vulnerable pupil group, many of whom have experienced acute trauma, researchers at EPI developed a methodology that combines administrative datasets with national statistics and data obtained through freedom of information requests to the Home Office.
The considerable gap in attainment between unaccompanied asylum-seeking pupils and non-migrant children of 37.4 months is estimated by researchers to be similar in size to the gap for pupils with special needs and disabilities who have the most severe needs.
The new report also reveals that unaccompanied asylum-seeking children experience higher rates of fixed period school exclusions (7.1%) than non-migrant children (5.2%), as well as slightly higher school absence rates of 6.8% compared to 6.6% for non-migrant children.
In contrast to unaccompanied children, resettled refugee children and asylum-seeking children living with family members in receipt of financial support from the government, are estimated to experience a much smaller school attainment gap on average, but one that is still substantial – trailing their non-migrant peers by around a year and a half (17.3 months) at GCSE.
Resettled refugee and asylum support recipient children are however estimated to have higher school attendance rates than non-migrant children, with 5% school absence rates compared to the 6.6% for non-migrant children. Such pupils also have a lower-than-average fixed period exclusion rate, at 4.4% compared to the non-migrant average of 5.2%.
The full report can be accessed here: https://epi.org.uk/publications-and-research/the-educational-outcomes-of-refugee-and-asylum-seeking-children-in-england/